Carson City oversight panel OKs utility budgets

Financial oversight resulted in positive recommendations Tuesday regarding sewer, water and storm water budgets city staff put together for eventual consideration by Carson City’s Board of Supervisors.

The city’s five-member Utility Financial Oversight Committee reviewed the non-general fund budgets, which have been fueled by utility ratepayers, and approved of them for Fiscal Year 2015-16 after considerable discussion about maintaining an adequate reserve position in coming years.

The sewer budget for operations, capital improvements, reserves and other factors for the coming fiscal year amounts to more than $26 million, according to Finance Director Nick Providenti. He said for water, it’s about $21.4 million and for storm water it’s more than $2 million. These are all enterprise funds rather than part of city government’s general fund, the one that has been supported primarily by city sales and property tax revenues.

Ande Engleman, committee chairperson, asked staff a question she said she often gets from the public: whether water rates ever could return to the level at which they once were.

“Can I answer that by saying it’s a policy decision?” said Utility Manager David Bruketta. He said, basically, there will continue to be pressure for funds but added that the matter ultimately will be a policy decision. Policy is set by the Board of Supervisors.

The committee also discussed the drought and a situation that affects contracts requiring the city to provide watering from effluent or other sources at golf courses, state prison farms and city open space in parks. The city had to use potable water in calendar 2014 to supplement wastewater effluent because there wasn’t enough to cover the need, which cost government $71,800, and will again this year.

It is paid for by sewer funds, which Engleman pointed out is undergirded by the ratepayers, but that basically again is what will happen in FY 2015-16 unless the mayor and supervisors make some other decision. The gist of a committee recommendation was that $100,000 from sewer funds be available if needed to pay for supplemental water. Bruketta said the need for such supplement is virtually certain again this year.


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